Thursday, 11 October 2018

16 Terrifying Horror Scripts To Read & Learn From This Halloween


Have I mentioned I'm a huge horror fan? Thought I probably had! 

I LOVE to read any horror script I can get my hands on. Of course I'm a fan of classics such as Alien, The Exorcist, The Omen, Halloween and Friday 13th - but today, I wanted to talk about some other golden examples of HOW to write a terrifying and marketable horror film. 

See below for 6 writing tips and a full list of links to read the 16 horror scripts!

Writing Tip #1 - USE THE SILENCE & BUILD TOWARDS THAT FIRST SCARE


That first jump scare in A Quiet Place works so well because there has been a significant amount of silence (for OBVIOUS reasons). The audience are invested in this silence from the get-go because our characters must live this way to protect themselves.


Audiences are clever - we pick up on the subtleties - so when that first loud noise reveals itself  (with shocking and devastating results) - the audience have a visible and visceral reaction. 


Use your silence to cultivate an atmosphere and emphasise the emotional impact.



Writing Tip #2 - UNIQUE CONCEPT & SIMPLE EXECUTION

IT Follows is similar in theory to The Ring - a demonic/deadly curse is transmitted to others but this time it's not by a cursed video tape. 

It's through sex! 

I LOVED this idea - a realistic narrative because it is relevant to social conversation or topics today. Also, low-budget horrors are highly sought after when the 'big bad' is easily translated onto film. In IT Follows - the opposing force/big bad is an invisible/identity changing manifestation. So get creative!

Keeping the concept simple makes it all the more realistic no matter what the 'big bad' is or the world the characters inhabit, and THAT is what an audience will engage with.

Writing Tip #3 - IT'S WHAT WE DON'T SEE THAT'S TERRIFYING


The Conjuring is full of jump scares, and the scenes that stay with me the most are the ones where the audience are teased by what MIGHT be lurking in the dark.  Make the audience uncomfortable, confront them with the shocking reveal BUT make them invest in the horror. 

 We KNOW something is lurking, we KNOW our characters have something to fear.
WHO or WHAT? The audience will be intrigued, but how much information are you willing to give them?
Remember in The Ring, Samara isn't fully revealed until the very end as she climbs out the television. 

Look for moments like that in your own script, so when the evil is revealed it's a significant and memorable moment. 


Writing Tip #4 - SLOW & STEADY WINS THE RACE


Hereditary got a lot of flack for being 'too slow', personally I didn't find it a problem at all. 

It was all in the drama of the family dynamics and relationships which the audience became invested in - which made the HORROR all the more horrific when terrible things happened to this family. 

Tease the audience, let them know something sinister is going to happen and much like the jump scares above - make them DREAD WHEN is it going to reveal itself? WHAT are the consequences going to be? WHY are your characters DOING these things and HOW does it propel the horror story forward?
 When the horror does begin in Hereditary, it starts with one (literally!) fatal blow. 

The death is so horrific and shocking that the audience aren't actually confronted with it at first. It's implied, suggested, we see the reactions of another character to confirm what happened BUT the audience don't see anything. 

For a short while anyway, and when we do - we wish we hadn't!

Give the audience what they want, and then some. HOW can you stretch out certain scenes of intense fear, dread or terror? 



A full list of free scripts all sourced and found via Google or Script Slug - available to download & read:



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2 comments

  1. Thanks for these. I've just started reading A Quiet Place screenplay. So many rules broken, but I don't care in the slightest as I'm pulled into the story so efficiently. Just goes to show, rules can be broken if you're telling a great story.

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    1. It's a fantastic script to read isn't it! Absolutely agree Lee - writing a GREAT story is far more important than being focused on following the 'rules' so strictly that we are left with a narrative that feels vanilla/done before.

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